Pokemon Go players: Game helps with depression - WNEM TV 5

Pokemon Go players: Game helps with depression

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

It's been hard to ignore just how wildly popular the new Pokemon Go mobile game app has become.

Just as it has grown in popularity overnight, it seems to be making a night and day difference in the lives of some of those who play it.

The game hasn't been out for a full week yet, but many players have been posting on social media how the game has helped their mental health, mood, social anxiety and depression.

"Just another way to get out, exercise and meet people and stuff," said Vandy Lane, Pokemon Go player.

It was a nice day for a walk around Old Town Saginaw for Land and Alisha Miller, but it wasn't the sun and warm weather that led them outside. Instead, they were on a mission to catch some Pokemon.

"I love to be outside. Just sometimes I don't have a lot of activities to do, so this is perfect," Lane said.

Thousands are getting hooked on the smartphone app. While it's a single player game, Miller said they met several new friends as they're out catching the virtual creatures.

"We met lots of people. We met some enemy teams, but we still had a good conversation with them. It's really awesome," Miller said.

As people are walking around collecting Pokemon, many said they're getting more exercise than normal. Therapists said that could help patients with depression in the long run.

"Exercise has been found to be one of the most beneficial ways to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, but sometimes there can be a barrier because a lack of motivation. So if there's a tool to get them out into the community that can be a positive motivator," said Amy Alexander, employee wellness director for Child and Family Services.

She said therapists aren't endorsing the game to treat depression, but she said exercise and social interaction can help no matter the motivation behind in.

"Being out in the community can sometimes reduce some of those feelings of isolation or it can promote interaction with others," Alexander said.

Several people have already taken to social media professing how the game has helped them with certain mental health issues. Players like Lane agree the game is a big mood booster.

"I feel like I can do a lot more things you know, when it comes to the outside. I can go to new places. I've seen places I've never really seen before for Pokestops and stuff," Lane said.

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